Tag Archives: Pav

The real reason Spurs came fifth?

There has been many a discussion post season as to why we finished in fifth spot in the league last season, when many, myself included, thought that fourth should have been a definite and maybe even second or third was a real possibility.

Some of the post mortem debates have been;

Was it the lack of goals from the strikeforce and the fact we didn’t strengthen this area in the January transfer window? At the start of the season most would have said it was good enough to compete.

Was it that our success in the CL had a negative and tiring effect on our league form as we all know about the 2 points from 8 games fact, plus the seeming inability to defeat the so called inferior teams?

Is that I and many others are just wrong and we really aren’t as good as we had hoped and believed and we are in the right place for the level we are at?

All the above points have merit to some degree.

We know that our strikeforce of JD, Pav, Crouchy and Keano should have been capable of firing in the goals as they had plenty of imagination, flair and talent behind them creating the chances for them. But ,for various reasons, it didn’t happen for them last season and when we desperately needed to strengthen and had the opportunity this failed to materialise also.

The inability to defeat lesser teams was the most frustrating fact from last season for me. I can hear you saying now to yourself ‘why would this be?’, as Spurs have a history of doing such things and you would be correct in that thought. The previous season we were much better at getting the points when we struggled and played the bottom half of the table teams and maybe I just expected the team to carry on in the same vein. Of course the CL exertions had an effect but we have a quality and large enough squad that should have been used to its maximum to prevent such a dire return at the tail end of the season.

After reflecting on the last season I truly believe that it really was a superb opportunity for us to finish anywhere from second to fourth in the league as we had the talent to have done this. Especially as Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and even Manchester United struggled for large parts of the season, so a real opportunity lost in my eyes. On the where we really are front and compared to the other teams mentioned I think we can honestly seriously compete with City, Liverpool and Arsenal now.

But, after reading a very good article in the latest edition of FourFourTwo Magazine (@FourFourTwo on Twitter) I put forward this reason: Injuries and specifically injury to Ledley King!

According to said article Spurs had 61 different injuries during the last season, the most in the PL, the least were BLackpool with 20. Spurs as a whole lost 1528 days to injuries, the 4th most, Sunderland were top with 2001 days. I know our squad should be big enough and have enough depth within it to cope with such issues as every team has them, but 61! That seems a hell of a lot of injuries and days lost, I wonder how many times that specific ones occurred? Maybe the club should analyse what they were, how many times they occurred and how they could possibly change the training routine to prevent some of them. Yes, some were obviously match related injuries that you cannot do anything about as it is a contact sport after all and also injuries occurred to players whilst playing for the their countries rather then us (Dawson and JD’s for England being 2). Still, injuries on this scale must have an effect on the team with consistency, gelling with and understanding team mates, fitness levels and possibly psychologically as well. With the amount of games we played I am not saying this was the only reason but it may have been a real factor and taken its toll on the team.

My second point on the injury front issue is our leader, Mr Cool himself, Ledley King. I firmly believe he is the best centre back in the country bar none and it’s a crying shame what has happened to him due to his dodgy knees mainly, amongst other related issues. I have some interesting facts for you:

Last season LK missed 197 days of a 282 day PL season (the previous season 101). He was included in 10 squads throughout the last season, starting 9 times and being an unused sub once, 6 starts were in the PL (previous season 21 starts, 20 in PL). This related to a total of 764 minutes of competitive football played last season and 1637 minutes the season before. Our win percentage with him in the team last season was 75% (PL games only and yes I know only 6 of them!), and without 58%, over a much longer period it has to be said. I can counter this though with the stat that over the last 7 seasons we are at a win percentage of 59% with him in the team and 50% when he isn’t. How many points this relates to last season if he played even 10 more league games of the 32 that he missed is anyone’s guess but if we used a win percentage of only 50% and converted some of the draws into wins, it would be anywhere from 10-15 points I reckon and second place in the league! Wishful thinking I know.

Obviously this is all theoretical and stats can be twisted to suit but I do honestly believe we are a much calmer, better team with LK in it that wins more. It also would have helped if we could have had available our first choice XI much more often (obviously with squad rotation being taken into account) without the deluge of injuries and last season could have been even better than it was.

Hopefully next season we won’t have so many injuries, especially to our top players, Ledley will play some more games and our strikers will be firing.

Top four here we come!

COYS

Rob

All facts and figures taken from myfootballstats.com and FourFourTwo Magazine

Same Old Tottenham, Always Teasing

I’m not sure where to start with regards to yesterday’s game against Wolves so like any good story maybe it’s best to start at the beginning. The Dean Richards tribute and minutes applause was one of the most touching moments I’ve experienced in football.

I say this with the greatest respect and honesty but I never thought Deano was a fantastic player. He was decent enough and without meaning to sound contradictory towards Wolves and Southampton, he was their sort of player. A no nonsense centre half who did the simple things well but not a lot else. He came to Spurs with a very large price tag which I don’t think helped but he always seemed to give 100% which is all you can ask and is more than some of our current squad give. Yes Pav, I’m looking at you. Anyway, back to the tribute which in reality was just a minutes applause while some of his old managers and team mates stood in the centre circle but it was his two children who stood next to their mum while wolves and spurs supporters stood as one and in unison sang, “there’s only one Deano”. Thanks to the low sun and the distance the stands are to the pitch at Molineux I couldn’t see their faces and if I’m honest I think had I been able to the lump that formed in my throat would’ve escalated to full blown tears. 36 is no age for anyone to die and leave a young family. I’m 7 months away from starting my own and the thought of something happening to me fills me with dread. For this reason alone, yesterday’s game took on a different meaning to any before it this season.

As I was driving back down the motorway I had the usual feeling of disgust and anger that follows a disappointing result but it was easier to resolve. During a match it doesn’t feel like there is but there’s definitely more to life than football. So I’m sorry Mr Shankly, your opinion that football is more important than life and death is just plain wrong. Ask Dean Richards’ two little boys if you don’t believe me. RIP Deano.

However there was a game yesterday and a fitting one it was too. Frustrating that we couldn’t defend properly and yet again fail to beat a team in the bottom 3 but that’s the Tottenham way. At half time I told a friend of my anger at this team I love so much constantly teasing me into believing they’ll become great soon only to then pick up 1 point from Blackpool and Wolves. Supporting Spurs is like marrying a beautiful women who walks around naked all day but doesn’t let you touch her. It’s like being made to watch Basic Instinct with all the naughty bits of Sharon Stone cut out or being placed inside the Swedish beach volleyball teams dressing room after a very sweaty match but being blindfolded. It’s dick tease after dick tease with this lot.

I could cope when we were just crap. I didn’t expect much, maybe the odd cup run which would ultimately end in disappointment but defeats at home to Charlton on a regular basis and a top 10 finish being seen as a decent season was what we expected. Deano was part of that era, an era we would prefer to forget but one where we knew what we were letting ourselves in for. Nowadays it’s beating the champions of Europe and travelling to the San Siro to beat the AC side of Milan followed by crushing defeats at Bolton and Blackpool. We’ve now conceded three goals in our last two games against strikers of the ilk of DJ Campbell, Brett Ormerod and Kevin Doyle having kept a relatively easy clean sheet against the likes of Ibrahimovich, Robinho and Pato.

Their were two positives to come out of yesterday’s game though and they were Defoe’s goals and the performance of Sandro. I’ll come onto JD in a second but first I want to focus on Sandro who has improved so fast he’s not far from being the first name on the team sheet and with performances like his last few it’s hard to see where some of the returning players will fit in. I’ve said it for a while now and while we have missed Huddlestone’s passing ability I’m not sure how he could walk straight into the team in front of the Brazilian on current form. Competition is great but so is team consistency and rewarding players performances with selection. He was my man of the match yesterday once again.

Defoe was visibly different after his first goal. The spring in his step and his movement improved ten fold and if we’re to somehow secure a top 4 finish, which I believe will now require taking points off Chelsea, City, Arsenal and Liverpool as well as the other games we play, we’ll need a fully fit, confident, goal scoring Defoe in our side. Much like Sandro, whether that’ll be possible once everyone returns from injury we’ll have to see. It’s a nice problem for Redknapp to have but it’s a problem all the same.

As for the negatives I thought there were many. I haven’t seen the highlights on TV yet so bare with me if my view from the terrace is wrong but that’s the only view I can give at this point. My initial reaction to Lennon being dropped was that he must’ve picked up an injury in Dubai, maybe he got sunburnt, but that doesn’t seem to be the case so he was either being rested for Wednesday’s game against Milan having just had 11 days without a match or it was tactical. Whichever of those it was, Harry got it terribly wrong. We lacked any sort of width with both Pienaar and Modric preferring to cut inside and neither Ekotto or Hutton pushing too far forward. In all fairness none of the team played well until after Wolves scored, something we’ve had to put up with this season no matter whether it’s home or away, against a good team or a struggling team. At least we did pick it up though with two fantastic strikes by Defoe to put us into the lead.

Without wanting to sound like Wenger I couldn’t see the penalty situation from where I was. No-one seemed to know what it was for but I’ve been told it was for a pull and using my knowledge of Hutton’s inability to defend it doesn’t surprise me. As far as Wolves insistence it should be a red card they’re right in one sense. By the letter of the law if it’s a penalty then it’s a red card but personally whether it’s against us or for us I’ve always thought that law is wrong and a scored penalty plus a yellow is right. If the penalty is missed then the player should walk, but given FIFA and the International Football Association Board are too busy discussing snoods it’s hard to believe they might one day take a look at the game and change it for the better.

Onto the second half and it looked like one of those games where the next goal would win it so it was a pleasant surprise to see Pav do what Pav does and lash a deflected shot in. Fantastic technique as he did what he tries to do every time which is push the ball forward with his first touch and smack it with his second. If the kid would also do something else and give as much effort as a Dean Richards did he’d be some player. Unfortunately for him he’ll find himself back on the bench once Rafa returns and will struggle to understand why. I know this sounds like I’m being very anti-Pav and I guess I am but I should point out I give my full support during the 90 minutes of a match but yesterday was the final straw. I can’t put my finger on it but for some reason he only works in 5 minute spells. During a good 5 minutes he’ll run into the channels, hold it up well, link play, score goals and generally be a nuisance. Then he slips back to his normal self, often following on from scoring a goal where he stops closing down, stands still, doesn’t control or pass the ball and then gets the hump when he’s substituted. If you watch cricket he’s our equivalent of Australia’s fast bowler Mitchell Johnson, who spends most of his time bowling utter garbage but occasionally throws down a world class delivery that surprises the batsmen so much he knocks their middle stump out the ground. It’s all about consistency Pav.

It was great to see Bale come on and had he been placed on the left of midfield it’s hard to imagine him not scoring or at least making a better fist of the couple of chances he created while on the pitch. I found it an odd decision to play him on the right, especially when Lennon then came on and was put on the left and when I say an odd decision, I mean a retarded one. Pace or no pace, even I could defend against Lennon on the left.

Their goal should’ve been allowed apparently but as I haven’t seen the replay’s I can’t really comment on that. I’m guessing as the ball went up Gomes came to collect it but instead of taking everything in his way like a good keeper would he’s gone in like a baby, the Wolves player has made a good and fair connection but because the keeper’s gone down the easy option is to give the free kick to Spurs. About right? A stupid rule but I’m sure the same decision would’ve been given at the other end of the pitch.

Their late equaliser was once again poor defending. The one thing that was annoying me beyond belief was our inability to stop Jarvis floating crosses in. It’s the one area Wolves benefit from and it isn’t a secret. Even Match of the Day were discussing it a few weeks ago and we all know those guys know very little so why did we apparently know nothing about that threat? Maybe we did but having Hutton as the right back resulted in knowing about the threat and neutralising it were two very different things. Once the cross went in the fact Fletcher managed to get to it instead of Dawson or Gallas who both had poor games should worry us for Wednesday. I’ll briefly touch on the two centre backs because throughout the game both Gallas and Redknapp were spending a large proportion of it seemingly telling Dawson where he should be which I find strange given he’s the captain of the team and now a seasoned player. Let’s just put that down to one of those games.

Finally, while we all applaud the style of football the team have played under Redknapp I’m not sure going for the fourth goal instead of trying to shut up shop is the way forward. I understand the logic behind it because Wolves were pushing for the equaliser and had we managed to put away one of the few chances we created in the final 20 minutes or so it would’ve been game over but I would’ve preferred to see a Palacios coming on for Pav with 15 minutes to go instead of Lennon. Stick 5 in midfield or even 5 at the back with Sandro dropping deeper. There’s nothing wrong with playing defensively to win a game instead of going go hung, all out attack at times.

On the day we mourned the loss of Dean Richards, I guess it was not only fitting to have a thrilling 3-3 draw but also a game that showed how both teams could probably still do with him in their squad.

COYS

Spurs 4 – 1 FC Twente: A Match Report

Instead of concentrating too much on whatever it is I normally babble on about I thought I’d go for a more traditional match report today. Here goes:

Dear old Harry loves to pull some surprises doesn’t he? I didn’t see anyone predicting last nights starting 11 or the formation we’d play. Lennon dropped and two strikers. It just made no sense at all but it worked and that’s all that matters. When I first saw the team sheet I couldn’t work it out. Who was going to play on the right of midfield? I presumed it would be Modric but then there was Redknapp on Sky TV saying it would be the left footed Van der Vaart in a 4 man midfield. Quelle surprise indeed.

I was worried but also happy we were playing 2 strikers. The lone striker just hasn’t worked in domestic football so far and I’m a little annoyed we’ve persisted with it for so long when really it’s only needed away from home in Europe but hopefully Redknapp’s now consigned it to the “only use when absolutely necessary” pile of formations. Just as I hope last night’s player positions isn’t used in the premier league, because with the likes of Ashley Young this Saturday our lopsided right will get found out. After the match Rafa spoke about how playing on the right isn’t his favourite position but because he had a free role it wasn’t that bad. Free role would be an understatement. When Bale hadn’t swapped to the right the player responsible for giving us any width on that side or an out ball was Alan Hutton and once again he did very well. On this form I would’ve thought Charlie was sitting on the bench last night wondering if his days at Spurs are numbered. Maybe harsh and definitely premature but with Hutton and Kaboul staking their claims to the right side of defence he’s suddenly got some very real competition.

Bassong and King did what they do best which was head the ball away when needed. They also tried to play total football in the first 45 by picking the ball up in their own half and running with it. We’ve seen King do this before although not for a long time which told as he got near Twente’s area and suddenly realised where he was. Bassong’s run was even funnier. He surprised everyone, so much so by the time he’d got into the corner there were 3 defenders on him and not one team mate. They were all standing, watching with mouths wide open wondering what the hell was going on. It was great to watch.

Ekotto put in another typical performance, linking well with Bale on the left and he too found himself in advanced positions on a number of occasions which was good to see. While all 4 defenders were playing like we all used to at school, a little Croatian was tidying up around them, filling in the gaps left, breaking up Twente’s attacks when he could and while not obvious did an excellent team job. Listening to Alan Smith on Sky you would’ve thought Modric had been giving the ball away constantly, missing tackles and was generally crap. I guess once a gooner, always a moron.

The first half had a typical spurs ebb and flow to it. We get the ball, you get the ball, entertain, entertain, entertain. This is why I love my football club, and hate it equally I guess when it doesn’t go right, but last night it went just how we all wanted. That’s not to say we didn’t get our fair share of luck. Early on Huddlestone lost the ball just inside his own half and Ruiz ran in on goal. As he tried to lift the ball over a flailing Gomes, the octopus managed to stick one of those massive hands in the air and thankfully made a wonderful save. This moment can’t be highlighted enough. All of the talk will be about Van der Vaart and Pav but who knows how the game might’ve ended if Gomes hadn’t produced that in his first game back after injury. Then Huddlestone again was in the thick of things but this time it probably should’ve been his last involvement in the match. Having his shirt tugged and being nibbled at by a Twente player his frustration got the better of him as he swung an elbow that connected sweetly on his opponents jaw. Quite how the referee missed it I don’t know but thankfully he did. From that moment on the game had a little bit about it. Some tackles were flying in, lots of rolling about on the floor and even demands for bookings from the Dutch side. A major pet hate of mine that last one. Bremen are now my German team for their  hospitality when I was there but Twente can’t expect the same honour from me.

Then just as half time approached we got the first of 3 penalties on the night. There’s been plenty of discussion on whether any of them were but in my opinion the first 2 were dead certs. The third was a little fortunate but that’s football. Crouch was sent to the ground with the twente defender on top of him as they wrestled in the area waiting for a cross to come in. Which of the 5 officials gave the decision no-one seems to know but then that was the theme of the night. After plenty of gamesmanship and waiting, Rafa stepped up and placed the shot in the same corner as he did against Wolves, but this time the keeper went the right way and produced a good save.

It’s gonna be one of those nights, right? Wrong. Just as I’d finished writing on the forum how I’d like to see us stop persisting with this annoying tactic of playing early, long, deep crosses to Crouch at the back post in the hope that someone would get to the knock down, we scored by doing exactly that. Huddlestone’s cross, Crouch’s knock down and a beautifully controlled and volleyed goal from Rafa saw us take a deserved lead. A couple of minutes later Bale went on one his jinking runs only to be hauled down and it was another penalty. This time, Pav stood up and slotted it home. This was the start in a turnaround in performance for Pav.

About this time I was thinking, I hate it when we’re 2-0 up. Unfortunately my fears were realised when Twente managed to get a scrambled goal back. More poor defending unfortunately but it was also a little pinball so we can forgive them just this once. On another day it falls to a defender instead of a striker. So it’s 2-1 and now I’ve got another bad feeling. Van der Vaarts been flying around all night, obviously trying to prove something against Dutch opposition. He’s already got a yellow card and a red seems imminent. I tweet my feelings. I’m soon told to stop tweeting as Rafa goes in for a silly challenge and gets his marching orders. One well read spurs blogger, who shall remain nameless at this point tweeted something along the lines of “RIP Champions League”. Who says he’s not a knee jerker like the rest of us? ;) Although I’m sure he wasn’t the only one feeling like that. This had all the hallmarks of a classic Spurs game. In control, dominating and then a series of events happen to leave us all mystified and angry. Not tonight though, not on this historic first champions league home game.

Strangely enough when we went down to 10 men we actually played better. We kept the ball exceptionally well and maturely. Not like us at all. Even stranger was the performance of Pav. He was very poor in the first half. No movement, expecting the ball to come to him all the time, couldn’t hold it up or link play and sulked when a decision didn’t go his way. That was the bad side of Pav. The 2nd half saw the side that most resembles his song, if only he could do it all the time. He came to the party, not only with his 2 well taken penalties but mainly with his all round play. He did everything you want of a lone striker and did it well. I’m the first to admit I don’t rate him and the best thing about him is his song but I’ll also happily commend him when he plays like that. Do this every game Pav and you’d be our first choice striker. He’s so frustrating.

It was Pav that forced our 3rd and final penalty, attempting a shot from about 25 yards that was blocked by the raised elbow of the defender. A good 5 seconds passed before the referee blew his whistle for what seemed like a harsh spot kick but I’m not complaining. 3-1 it was and game over. For a change I was pretty confident of that fact.

We carried on passing the ball about, conserving energy and looking like a side about to win it’s first game in the group. Huddlestone was coming into his own, playing in a more advanced role than normal which was good to see and he had an excellent 2nd half as did the whole team. There was still enough time for Bale to get into the headlines again with a well taken goal. As the ball broke he was the first to react, heading the ball into the penalty area and coolly slotting into the bottom left hand corner.

4-1 and the glory nights had returned to N17. Our biggest Champions League win in 128 years isn’t bad is it? ;) Bring on Inter.

Who Needs the Carling Cup?

Who needs the Carling Cup? We do and judging by the team Wenger put out last night he feels it wouldn’t be a bad thing to not completely dismiss it this season. It was meant to be our youngsters with a few reserves thrown in against their’s but what we got was Wenger playing half his 1st 11 and the rest youngsters. The gap in quality was there for all to see.

However, I’m going to do something I rarely do and that’s just touch on the negatives and concentrate on the positives.

Lets get the negatives out of the way first. I think the Carling Cup is important. Granted it may be considered the 4th priority as far as possible trophies go but it’s 1st in the most likely to win category and there aren’t many of us who were saying it was a mickey mouse cup 2 years ago when we lifted it. Winning trophies is what football is all about and the team we put out was a clear indictment that it’s not important to the management at Tottenham Hotspur. Well, for those in attendance and those watching on TV it’s important. Not only because it’s a trophy but because it’s a derby. The club and Redknapp should’ve known this and therefore should’ve fielded a stronger team. I’m not saying first 11, I understand the need for squad rotation but in key areas we should’ve played key players.

Tactically we got it terribly wrong playing 4-4-1-1 with Bentley on the left and Gio having a free role. Unfortunately Redknapp did nothing about this glaring mistake until half time at which point we were lucky to be only 1-0 down. Bentley in his first game of the season and playing in an unfamiliar role looked poor most of the game but we know his quality so I’m not too worried about that. Gio on the other hand looked completely out of his depth, as he did against Wigan. I’ve got no idea why. He had a good world cup and looked bright in pre-season and I really wanted him to be given a chance but when he’s given one he just ambles around running into people.

That’s it as far as the negatives go. There’s plenty more but I don’t want to concentrate on them. Even after being knocked out of a competition we could’ve won and being knocked out by the locals there are things we can take out of the game.

Firstly, Sandro. We’ve been waiting for what feels like years to finally see this supposed young future superstar in action and I didn’t feel let down. Quite the opposite actually. He’s got great strength, hardly surprising given his size, can spot a pass and never gives up. It’ll still take some acclimatising for him to be at his best but I’d have no problems on that performance seeing him drafted into the 1st team quicker than most think he will be. I’m not even sure if he’s a Palacios replacement, or at least not just Palacios. I think he’ll eventually oust Huddlestone, which will upset those who think he’s still the next Hoddle.

Young Steven Caulker also did well on his debut, apart from the penalty he gave away in extra time. Approaching 19 it’s great to finally see someone from our youth set-up looking like he could be a mainstay in a few years. He’s still got a lot of learning to do but he did well enough for me to think when some of our current crop of central defenders go to pastures new we won’t have to spend a fortune on a replacement. Hopefully his development will continue in the right direction so United have another player they can sniff around.

I’m not Pav’s biggest fan. I’ve been known to say the best thing about him is his song but I felt he did better than normal last night. That’s about as good a complement as I’ll give him until he does it every game. He ran the channels well and looked up for it. Unfortunately we didn’t get any decent supply to him to see if he could make the difference.

When you look at their team and ours last night the one thing I thought was their’s wasn’t that much worse than their 1st 11. Obviously with Fabregas and a few others they’re a better team but they’re not on a completely different level, whereas I believe our first 11 would’ve battered the team we put out last night. This makes me feel quite positive about the league games between the sides. It’s always hard but none of the players we select in those games will have lost any confidence from last night. They still remember winning 2-1 in April and know they’re a lot closer in terms of ability to Arsenal than last night’s team was.

The one thing that annoys me by putting out a weakened side last night is the extra pressure Redknapp has now put on the team for Saturday’s trip to Upton Park. It’s never an easy game as it’s their cup final. It may be a different team that starts for us but by losing last night all we’ve actually succeeded in doing is make that a must win. 3 points is all we’ll be happy with and all that might wipe last night’s game from the mind. If West Ham turn up and put in the display they will do eventually against us and we lose, there will be one or two more people joining the “Harry Haters” club.

Finally, when you’re thinking about the game today and start feeling sorry for yourself just stop and be thankful you’re not an Everton fan ;)

COYS

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Got There in the End – Wolves Review

It was a strange game on Saturday in many ways. Wolves came to White Hart Lane as we expected and put 10 men behind the ball until they scored when they increased that to 11 but we came out just as many of us wanted them to and fought for every 50/50 ball and passed with precision and pace.

We created plenty of chances in the first half and with a little more luck or someone that could head the ball from 6 yards out we would’ve scored. It was just one of those games when they caught us with a sucker-punch of a goal. It wasn’t even a fast counter attack, it was just one of those things. Kaboom was injured and didn’t move out quickly enough, playing the Wolves strikers onside and bang it was in. When I went to get a drink at half time many of the Spurs already in there didn’t even realise we were losing.

We came out in the second half and continued to do what we had done in the first although for the first 20 minutes without the same cutting edge, but we still created chances with Hutton coming close with a curling left footed shot and Keane missing the target with an acrobatic attempt. Strangely and something I never thought I’d say but we were eventually saved by the forgotten cocaine fiend (allegedly), Alan Hutton. Due to Wolves insistence to defend their lead Hutton had the run of the left side without having to worry too much about leaving space behind him because there were no Wolves players prepared to cross the halfway line anyway.

With 15 minutes to go he picked the ball up just inside his own area and made a jinking run that resulted in a penalty. Screams of joy rang around the Lane, quickly followed by a nervous hush as we wondered who would take it. A lot of teams celebrate a penalty being given like a goal, we should know better by now. Thankfully, Rafa Van der Vaart stood up and slotted it home with the confidence and aplomb that only comes from a world class player (see the shakey video below of the penalty as seen from the Park Lane). If Saturday was your first experience of watching him live you’ll no doubt have been impressed. Next time you go spend the game watching him and just him. His movement off the ball and the time he seems to have is superb. Everything we do is already going through him and we’ll start reaping the rewards.

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gMCYxJTCbuw

From that moment on there really was only one winner. Wolves still had no interest in going forward. By this point Lennon was on and even though he only made one run it was Lennon of old. Running beyond the defender expecting the ball to be slid in to him, and it duly was. His cross from the byline was knocked down and a little pinball resulted in Pav having the simple job of finding the bottom corner from 6  yards. 2-1 and game over with only a few minutes to go.

Hutton however, had other ideas. Not happy with making the equaliser and sitting in his right back slot to make sure we defended our lead he again went on a run into the penalty area. This time he lost the ball but his determination caused confusion in the Wolves defence which led to the ball being cleared off Huttons shin and nestling nicely past the shit Kasey Keller, Marcus Hahnemann.

Job done and job done well. Yes we left it late but we deserved the 3 points and played as we’ll need to do after a champions league game. More injury concerns with Kaboom coming off just before half time but like last season the player coming on made a difference which is all you can ask. Hutton says he wants to stay at Spurs and prove he’s good enough, well on that display he’ll have no problem changing peoples opinions.

Now onto tomorrow night’s game against that lot down the road.

COYS

Half Time – Honours Even?

I’m not going to sit here and knee jerk like so many were last night during the game. Nor am I going to lambast every player in a spurs shirt. I’ll single some out later in the piece. ;-) As ‘Arry said after the game, it was a great defeat.

We Spurs fans can be a pessimistic lot. I’m sure that can be said about fans whoever they support but I would say I’m particularly bad. Very rarely do I think we’ll win, and while I predicted we would last night there was always a nagging doubt in the back of my head that maybe we’d have to settle for a draw instead. I didn’t foresee the first 30 minutes of last night happening though. However, as I trawled the internet while the shambolic performance was taking place and read the various forums and social networking sites I couldn’t quite believe all the negativity. Many suddenly suggesting we would struggle to finish in the top 7 or 8 this season and the good old “Harry must go” chants could be heard in the digital world.

For once in the 20+ years I’ve followed them I just didn’t feel that way. My wife thought I might be ill. Away goals are all important in these games and it was fairly obvious that their first 2 goals had been fortunate, even though they’d played well and we hadn’t. Say we didn’t get the rub of the green, the run of the ball or any other cliche you can think of but it’s true. Their first goal deflected off the arse of an offside player and fell invitingly to the unmarked Senad Lulic who calmly slotted home. The second wasn’t a great through ball as the awful Alan Smith on Sky would have you believe. It was a pass that was miss-controlled by Young Boys striker Henri Bienvenu who then managed to turn Dawson far too easily and again finish efficiently.

There’s no excusing the defending or the manner in which we competed in those first 30 minutes but we were at no stage out of the game. When their third goal was scored it did become a little foreboding but it was the only goal they scored that was genuinely good, plus if we could get ourselves together and get that away goal we could overturn a 2 goal deficit at home.

For those that say Redknapp just sits on the bench doing nothing even when we’re in trouble were put in their place if only for one game last night. Huddlestone was brought on for Benny when we went 3-0 down and it made the world of difference. Some would ask why he wasn’t starting as I did before kick off but it appears, reading between the lines, that big ol’ Tommy didn’t like the artificial pitch and it hurt his knees. If that’s the case, Redknapp didn’t really have much choice in starting him on the bench.

Fortunately just before half time we managed to get that important away goal just as a friend who was in Bern last night text me saying he could hear all the wanderers fans laughing. That text was very shortly followed by another one saying, “about f*cking time”. So we got ourselves a lifeline after what can only be described as the worst performance in a couple of years.

At this point I was settling for a 3-1 defeat.

The second half saw a lot of possession but not much else. Bale didn’t really get into the game at any point although he was still producing our best crosses which unfortunately no-one could get on the end of. Which brings me to the so called “Super Pav”. I’ll be honest, I’ve never been his biggest fan. I didn’t rate him before he signed and very little has changed my opinion on that. I laugh when I read people justifying his inclusion over this striker or that because of what he can offer the team.

If a Russian or Arab billionaire wanted to buy him but needed to see what he could do the simplest thing to do would be to make him watch last night’s game. By far the worst player on the pitch for the entire game and then BANG, top corner with 7 minutes to go and we’ve got 2 away goals and are right back in the tie. His movement is non existent for large periods when he plays, his control lets him down as much as it does for Sgt Wilson, he clearly doesn’t understand the concept of holding the ball up, his passing is ineffective and he can’t tackle. So why does he get this unheralded support from the fans? It doesn’t make sense to me. Once he crosses that line I’ll back him as much as any other player, but in my opinion last night just proved once again that we need a world class striker if we’re to compete at the top table. Having said all that, what a great goal ;-)

Now onto Wilson Palacios. A player I truly believe helped us get to where we are now. However, since the tragedy that he and his family had to suffer he’s just not been the same player. His passing has never been the greatest (see last night’s kamikaze back pass across the edge of the penalty area when we were 3-1 down) but his bulldog spirit and tackling used to make up for that. Now however, that’s gone too. He had a 15 minute spell at the beginning of the second half where he looked like his old self but then he faded again. The partnership of THud and Moddle looks so much better and with Sandro arriving in the next couple of weeks it does look like Sgt Wilson’s time could soon be up. For what he’s given to Tottenham Hotspur and what he’s been through, it should be his name fans sing and not Pav’s.

On a lighter note, it was great to see the little Mexican Gio getting his chance on the right. He showed last night what he can do in a very tough situation. He was running about, winning the ball and was probably the only player to come out of the game with any positives. Given Lennon’s recent form I’d like to see Gio given a run of 6-7 games starting with Stoke on Saturday.

So, we’re still in the tie and it’s probably honours even if not us just leading by a nose. Next Wednesday won’t be easy with Young Boys playing on the break which they showed last night they can do really effectively. But lets be honest, did we really want to go over their, win 3-0 and have our first home Champions League game be an easy one? Nah, that wouldn’t be the Spurs way. It’s set up now for next Wednesday to be a massive game. Under floodlights, the Champions League music will come on and White Hart Lane will come alive. The atmosphere will be electric and all in attendance will get their monies worth.

COYS

Joe Shows Hart

I haven’t read any of the papers this weekend so I don’t know if the headline I’ve chosen was used but I’d like to think it was, or at the very least White HART Lane.

When Mincini picked Joe Hart to play instead of Shay Given the writing was on the wall for one of two responses. The one I was hoping for was seen yesterday at Anfield when Pepe Reina dropped the ball into his own net against the Wanderers. Unfortunately for us (good for England) Joe Hart made it one of those keeping displays we seem to see at the Lane from opposition keepers on a regular basis. Diving left, right, high and low, he kept out everything we could throw at him. I guess we should look at it as a good thing that those displays are seen so often at the lane.

Of course he had a bit of luck on his side too. Gareth Bale’s shot cannoning off the post and not falling to the onrushing striker for a tap in or his most instinctive save from a Defoe shot that could’ve fallen to King on the 6 yard box for another tap in but it was just wide of Ledley.

Credit where it’s due though, Man City put the work in during a first half that we completely dominated. Most of it was last ditch blocks and tackles but it showed the potential they have as a defensive unit. With Mancini being Italian that’s hardly surprising. It was at the other end of the pitch that they offered no threat until the second half and even then Gomes didn’t have a save to make.

However, after numerous close shaves and great saves it was City who had their one and only and probably best chance of the match early in the second half. Benny played Wright-Phillips onside which left the munchkin on his own on the penalty spot. As he waited for the ball to come under his control, our cornrosed left back managed to correct his error with a superb tackle, making up at least 8 yards before a shot could be attempted.

City changed their shape in the second half in an attempt to limit the supply to Gareth Bale and it worked. We weren’t anywhere near as dominant although we were still the team creating the chances with Pav having 2 when he came on for the last 25 minutes.

Gio, who in my opinion should’ve started on the right, came on with 15 minutes to go and looked lively. There’s something not quite right about Lennon since he returned from his injury. Hopefully it’s just a fitness thing because if we had Lennon at the beginning of last season on the right and Bale from the end of last season on the left that would be frightening. Unfortunately at the moment (I know it’s only one game) it looks as if a team can stop Bale we are not the same threat from the right. I’d play Gio on Tuesday night against Young Boys to see how he does.

All in all, it was a good opening game for us that we could’ve won quite convincingly on another day. If we play like that for the rest of the season we’re going to be there or thereabouts once again.

On a side note, does anyone know the last time we started a season without a new signing playing or at least being on the bench? I quite liked the continuity from last season and I think it showed in our play. We played like a team with few if any weak links. I just can’t remember the last time that happened. Although the host of missed chances (albeit the defending should take large amounts of credit) I do wonder if we had a Berbatov (of 3 seasons ago) or a Drogba like striker whether that one point would’ve been turned into three?

The big games keep coming thick and fast from here on in, tomorrow night being the first.

COYS

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Ipswich 0 – 1 Spurs XI

A brief review of last nights game between a Spurs XI team and Ipswich. While it wasn’t quite Benfica v Spurs that was also on last night which I’ll presume most people caught on TV (great goal by Bale), it did as always give our youngsters another run out and the King played 45 minutes.

Written by Woody

Ipshit have some really annoying inbred chav fans, we had a group behind us who were bored (possibly ADD?) in the 2nd half so decided to copy whatever chants they could here Spurs signing and actually missed any action.

As for the game, er well, lets start with the reminder that it was just a friendly and it was mostly kids playing and because of this difficult to judge how everyone performed. I suppose a good way to sum it up was that the bigger boys won.

Alnwick gave me the shock of my life when he was eventually called upon to make a save. He made quite a good one with his legs whilst one on one with an Ipshit attacker. Smith was a pretty solid right back and played well but could have offered M’Poku more support when attacking down the right.

Carroll played left back and improved as the game went on, he was caught out of position a bit at the start which made the Ipshit number 7 look half decent.
King was his usual assured self, I think there was just one incident in the first half where the little striker tricked him and that was that. Him a Kaboul were playing against a lone short striker and just looked like giants. Butcher was King’s half time replacement and played quite well considering the standard of football, he looked to play the ball out of defence a lot which if that’s his natural game and he develops right will be a useful asset in the future. Kaboul was a giant, felt a bit sorry for him having to trot out against that lot but he didn’t do a lot wrong, just looked a bit confused when these tiny creatures in blue shirts were buzzing round his ankles because he was so much bigger than them.

M’Poku was pretty average, didn’t really pose a threat on the right side, although having said that when he did get down the right he didn’t have many options available to him.

Obika looked out of sorts on the left, had 3 shots off target which were awkward for him as he was coming in from the left all the time.

Livermore started the game very lazily, he wasn’t taking the game seriously which lead to him being caught in possession a bit, having said that he did settle down and made a decent challenge on the byline to correct an earlier mistake and was pinging some nice balls around the midfield.

Parrett looked pretty good, went down quite easily at times but he also did well in all the space the Ipswich players provided him with. Mason was neat and tidy, good on the ball, the quality of opposition probably helped a bit. Still very skinny. I think he needs a loan deal to a half decent side that play football to toughen him up a bit.

Pav was a class above again just like the other 2 senior pros, he held the ball up easily and knocked a few decent passes to the players around him in support, dug the ball out for his goal well. I couldn’t see the deflection from where I was but guessed there must have been one as the ball trickled passed with the keeper diving the wrong way.

All in all, a nice evening out interrupted by some football match.